LAWPUBL 431 - Advanced Public Law

Credit points: 15 points
Offered: First Semester
Contact hours: Lectures – 3 hours per week
Course Coordinator: Dr Edward Willis
Prerequisites: LAW 211

Course description

Public law is the law that deals with the history, structure and functioning of national government and the nature of the state. It contains the rules that create public power and allocate that power among different parts of government, and in doing so it shapes both the process and the outcome of government decision making in important ways. The aim of this course is to study selected topics in public law in a ‘deep dive’ fashion, encouraging students to closely consider the relevant theoretical frameworks and underlying debates as well as connecting those frameworks and debates to actual issues and decisions.

Content outline

The course covers selected and significant aspects of public law in New Zealand. Likely topics include the distinctive nature of unwritten constitutionalism, the developments of judicial declarations of inconsistency as a remedy for statutory breaches of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, ‘third source’ authority for government action, the limits of judicial review, Crown fiduciary duties owed to Māori, and the nature and scope of Parliamentary privilege, judicial power, the making and interpretation of legislation, and the idea of rights and liberty under the common law.  


1,500 word assignment (20%)

2 hour open-book exam (80%)

Open book means that you may, if you wish, bring into the exam and refer to any materials such as casebooks, textbooks and study notes.

Recommended text

Course materials to be distributed.  

Philip A Joseph Constitutional and Administrative Law in New Zealand (4 ed, Thomson Reuters, Wellington, 2014).